Over some years, 3D Africa, an educational and training program established by Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) has been providing the necessary technology drives. 3D Africa utilizes Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) to stimulate interests and passions of youth and women in under-developed communities towards 4th industrial revolution technologies such as 3D printing, robotics and artificial intelligence. You will learn how to sell what you create and how to build a business or a career around 3D printing.
3D Africa has taken the center stage in empowering the youths especially in Nigeria through establishment of coding clubs, 3D Africa clubs in secondary and tertiary institutions. We have also established STEM driven diploma and certificate programs such as computer aided designs (CAD), 3D printing, embedded systems for mechatronics etc. Currently, we have trained thousands of youths from tertiary institutions across Nigeria in the areas of embedded systems, robotics, computer aided designs (CAD) and 3D printing.
One of our STEM driven youth empowerment programs is the 3D Africa internship organized for undergraduate students. Despite the fact that Youth for Technology Foundation is a non-profit organization, over the years, it has committed its financial and human resources in empowering youth and women through the 3D Africa internship program. The 2019 class of internship students have learnt several hands-on projects to help build their design-thinking skills, problem-solving skills, coding skills, computational skills among others.
Below are some of the highlights of the STEM driven knowledge and skills acquired by 3D Africa trainees.
Autodesk inventor is a 3D computer aided design (CAD) software that enables users to design 3 dimensional objects for 3D printing phase. In the course of their training, 3D Africa trainees were able to use comprehensive tools such as REVOLVE, SWEEP, EXTRUDE etc to generate engineering designs such as pistons, valve hand wheel, test housing plastic shell etc. The trainees were also able to integrate design thinking and design consideration in their designs.
3D printing process creates a three-dimensional object from a computer-aided design (CAD) model. It creates the object by successively adding material layer by layer. 3D printing is also referred to as additive manufacturing. 3D Africa trainees have 3D printed CAD models made with different CAD software such as AUTOCAD and Autodesk inventor.
3D printed handle designed with inventor
Design thinking and Coding
3D Africa students have been trained on design thinking, a compulsory course that helps the students to make user considerations before embarking on creating any solutions for the end users. Also, they have been armed with logical and programming skills especially C++ which they have started using to create embedded systems for mechatronic solutions. With the knowledge of C++, our students program microcontrollers like Arduino and create object oriented libraries to enhance their Arduino based solutions. Also, our students have been trained on how to code in python programming language for raspberry pi based projects.
C++ code with DEV-C++ compiler
3D Africa has done amazing work in electronics. Our 3D Africa trainees have learnt electronic circuit designs and simulations with Proteus software. They have learnt how to use different types of sensors like GPS module, potentiometers, light dependent resistors, passive infrared sensor, ultrasonic sensors, LM35 temperature sensor, humidity sensor etc. Also, our trainees had much practical sessions on actuators such as servomotors, stepper motors, geared dc motors, relay modules and liquid crystal displays (LCD).
This is a technique of controlling and interacting with a hardware solution wirelessly. Our 3D Africa students through our mentoring have learnt how to add bluetooth module and radio frequency (RF) modules to their hardware projects to enable wireless communication and control of hardware via a mobile phone.
4-wheel robotic car with Arduino uno
3D Africa students were trained on how to integrate mechanical bodies with micro-controller (Arduino), L298 motor driver and dc motors etc to interact together to form a 4-wheel robotic car. This robot is controlled with an android mobile phone. With our resources and technical support, our students succeeded in designing and building a robotic car coded in C++. With a bluetooth enabled wireless communication feature, the robot is controlled wirelessly with a mobile android phone. Below is a short video clip that demonstrates the operation of the robot via an android phone.
A short video clip of the 4-wheel robotic car
Automated Water Pumping System with Arduino Uno
This is an embedded system based automatic AC water pump controller. In this project, alternating current (AC) lamp was used to simulate an AC pump whereby at certain water depth, the sumo begins to pump automatically and switches off at a desirable level. Tank water level is being monitored by an ultrasonic sensor. Our 3D Africa trainees have done amazing work in this project through our mentoring. Eventually, this project will be deployed to improve home automation in Nigeria, hence, solve the problem of power loss due to tank water overflow associated with non-automated AC water pumping systems.
Automated water pumping system under construction and simulation
From the above highlights, it is obvious that 3D Africa is really doing amazing work in youth empowerment, hence, transforming the narrative from “Aid to Africa” to “Made in Africa”.
Finally, 3D Africa host an annual event known as HackforGood, a three-day design and prototyping contest that will provide young people from across Nigeria with access to cutting-edge technology, instruction and mentoring to empower them to develop functional prototype that addresses the real-world needs of their communities”. “HackforGood empowers youth to future-proof themselves by exposing them to emerging technologies like 3D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence, blockchain and the Internet of Things so that they can become the innovators, job creators and highly skilled employees that the future of work requires”.
Odinachi Nwankwo is a Program Manager/3D Africa at YTF in Nigeria. An electrical and electronics engineer, he is passionate about all things Africa and technology believing that with the proper application of knowledge, youth in Africa can achieve their greatest dreams.